Andy Clarke is the president of the League of American Bicyclists. This article originally appeared on the League’s blog.
On Tuesday, August 27th the U.S. Department of Transportation released a draft strategic plan for public comment. The 94-page document lays out how the U.S. Department of Transportation proposes to manage our transportation system for the next five years — guiding the work of some 57,000 federal employees and heavily influencing some $205 billion of annual spending on highways in this country.
The comment period closes September 10. (You can read our comments on the draft strategic plan here.)
The bold title of the plan, “Transportation for a New Generation,” suggests some exciting changes and a new direction… and the numbers are certainly there in the plan to back up a decisive new transportation strategy. Consider:
- 32,367 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2011
- Driver behavior causes or contributes to 90 percent of crashes
- The economic costs of traffic crashes –- in 2000 -– was $230 billion
- One-third of Americans do not drive
- The U.S. population is expected to increase from 310 million in 2010 to 335 million in 2018 and 439 million by 2050
- Traffic congestion creates a $121 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy
- The average American adult aged 25-54 drives 12,700 miles a year and spends one month in his or her car each year; and each car costs $7,658 to buy, maintain and operate
- Cars and trucks are responsible for 83 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, which are 27 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have increased 21 percent since 1990 — 60 percent of that increase is due to transportation.
That all certainly points to the need for a new direction in transportation –- these problems are huge, the costs are staggering, and we’ve got $205 billion annually to spend on highways alone to do something about these problems.
Alas, that’s not what “Transportation for a New Generation” offers. Not at all.